HIV no longer a disease for the young
In 8 years more than half of affected Americans are likely to be over 50
A person living with the AIDS virus once had no hope of growing old. But within the next eight years, more than half of all Americans with the disease are likely to be over 50.
Rayford Kytle, in other words, could soon be a typical person living with HIV.
At 65, he has been HIV positive for more than 30 years. He exercises regularly, watches what he eats and doesn’t smoke. But he’s also had to have both hips replaced. And every 18 months, a surgeon gives him injections to compensate for fat loss in his face, he said, “so I don’t look like a walking skull.”
The hip surgeries are related to his disease. The injections, which cost about $1,500, are fillers to counteract the facial wasting that are a side effect of the early, more toxic anti-HIV drugs.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States is often perceived as something that mostly affects young adults. But nearly 11 percent of the 50,000 new infections each year are in people 50 or older. Nearly 33% of all people living with HIV are over 50, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As HIV-infected adults live longer, they are increasingly affected by such chronic illnesses as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and osteoporosis, common problems among many older people.
But studies suggest that those with HIV may be at higher risk for some of those illnesses and may get them earlier than usual.